Drug Development AI Startup BenevolentAI Raises $115M in Landmark Investment for Sector
Funds were raised at a pre-money valuation of $2 billion; it becomes one of largest funding rounds in an AI pharmaceutical startup
London-based and founded in 2013 a startup developing pharmecuticals, BenevolentAI, has raised $115 million both from new and existing investors at a pre-money valuation of $2 billion. This becomes one of the largest funding rounds in a company that engages both artificial intelligence (AI) and pharmaceutical expertise.
Many of the undisclosed investors are based in the United States; this gives the startup a foothold in another market while spreading its investor network farther than the UK. Some of the funds were from existing investors which include Woodford Investment Management. To date, BenevolentAI has raised over $200 million in funding since its establishement. Credit Suisse acted as the sole placement agent.
BenevolentAI uses artificial intelligence to perfect new medicines for diseases and medical conditions which are hitherto hard to cure or has not been successfully treated with existing medication. It claims to be the first fully integrated AI company dedicated to pharmaceutical discovery and clinical development capabilities. BenevolentAI's technology looks to disrupt the pharmaceutical industry by decreasing expenses and rate of failure while increasing speed of medicine delivery to patients, especially those in urgent need.
The UK startup says it technology is advanced and that it is shown to outperform human scientists in understanding the causes of diseases and is capable of generating drug candidates at scale and with speed. The technology is also able to decipher the molecular process of disease and link these disease signatures within patients to ensure that the best drug candidate is given to the best patient responders - the 'right drugs in the right patients'.
BenevolentAI's current drug development portfolio demonstrates that it can cut early stage drug discovery by four years and potentially deliver efficiencies in the entire drug development process of 60 percent against pharmaceutical industry averages - significantly disrupting an industry that spends $180 billion a year on R&D.
To achieve this, BenevolentAI has created a bioscience machine brain, purpose-built to discover new medicines and cures for disease. Proprietary algorithms perform sophisticated reasoning on over 50 billion ingested and contextualised facts to extract knowledge and generate complex insights into the cause of diseases that have, until now, eluded human understanding.
The company's AI technology is being used to develop treatments to unmet patients' needs across a wide range of diseases, including Motor Neuron Disease, Parkinson's Disease, Glioblastoma and Sarcopenia. Semi-automatic novel drug molecules are generated and then advanced in BenevolentAI's newly acquired Cambridge, UK, research facility.
BenevolentAI currently employs 165 people who work in a unique, cross functional environment that incorporates leading edge data scientists, computer scientists, mathematicians and drug development R&D scientists working side by side. The company is headquartered in London with further offices in New York and Belgium. BenevolentAI's research facility is located in Babraham Science Park, Cambridge, UK.
BenevolentAI has already made significant progress in accelerating drug development, including the initiation of over 20 drug programmes to date. The company will use the funds to significantly scale its drug development activities, broaden the disease areas on which it focuses, and extend its AI platform capabilities even further.
A portion of the funds will be used to extend BenevolentAI's capabilities into other science-based industries underpinning many of the world's most valuable markets such as advanced materials, agriculture, and energy storage.
Ken Mulvany, founder and chairman of BenevolentAI said, "We are very pleased with the response to the fundraising. It reflects the rapidly growing global interest in the AI pharmaceutical sector and the recognition of our place as the dominant player within it. We have come a very long way since we founded the business in 2013. The capabilities of our technology didn't exist six years ago. We are pioneering this sector and have evolved into a fully integrated, AI enabled drug development company with the ability to deliver better medicines at previously unimaginable speeds - this ultimately means patients will receive the right medicines, at a lower cost, in less time."
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